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A Death in the Family: My Struggle Book 1 (Knausgaard) Paperback – 7 Mar 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099555166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099555162
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"A masterpiece... Meticulously detailed, harrowing, oddly beautiful, its depiction of a family’s disintegration is one of the most powerful pieces of writing I’ve read in years" (Observer, Books of the Year)

"The best book I read this year...full of artistic, moral and technical daring" (Guardian, Books of the Year)

"This suburban epic, electrifying in candour and eloquence, feels streets ahead of the comparable Jonathan Franzen" (Independent, Books of the Year)

"Incredibly moving" (Irish Times, Books of the Year)

"A scorchingly honest, unflinchingly frank, hyperreal memoir of the life of one man and his family" (Guardian)

"This first instalment of an epic quest should restore jaded readers to life" (Independent)

"As tense as any thriller yet without a jot of sensationalism" (Metro)

"Readers will be captured by Karl Ove’s narrative intensity" (Times Literary Supplement)

"I think this is one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever come across." (Farm Lane Books (literary blogger))

Book Description

A searingly honest, addictive and controversial read from the international sensation and bestseller, Karl Ove Knausgaard.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Taylor McNeil on 27 April 2013
Format: Paperback
Novels are often autobiographical, and memoirs usually have as much fiction as fact. So what is Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle? It's clearly his personal story, told in a hyper-realistic manner. When I saw him in conversation with James Wood in September 2012 at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, he said yes, of course this is a novel, not a memoir: he uses the techniques of a novelist. But it's something simpler than that: it's an extremely effective piece of storytelling, the elemental kind that is how we make sense of our lives.

Why should readers care about the story of Karl Ove's life? It's not that it's in any way remarkable, though it certainly has its personal dramas. No, it's the almost guileless realism that drew me in--all the small details that make up our everyday lives that rarely get acknowledged in books, but which completely resonates at some deep inner level. And while there are passages where the writing is plain--no other word for it--often Knausgaard is employing the careful wordcraft of a skilled writer more concerned with telling his story than showing off his chops. In doing so, he gets to the heart of being in all its everyday ordinariness.

Knausgaard spares no one in his family in this portrayal, least of all himself. We see family scenes from his childhood, a long section from his teenage years that's blissfully free of moralizing or wallowing in self pity: it's simply life itself.

But ultimately the book is about death, and what that means for the living. My Struggle opens with a meditation on life's end, and the heart of the book recounts Karl Ove's week after learning of his father's death, most of it spent at his grandmother's fetid home in Kristiansand, a town on the southern coast of Norway.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Lenni E on 3 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I can not decide whether or not I like this book. I found it self-indulgent, and I at times felt that the author was incredibly arrogant. The book appears to have been written as self-therapy, to cleanse the author of his feelings about his father. We never really find out why the author hated his father so much, nor do we discover much about what seems to have been a very good relationship with his mother. The style of the book is sometimes very difficult to read: there are whole pages without a single paragraph break, and there is little flow of narrative. You could start reading this book at any point and not lose the flow.
This book definitely is not as good as the praise at the front of the book suggests. But at the same time, I did want to read it. Although not likeable, the author's character is intriguing; his observations of human nature are fascinating, his descriptions of the things he sees brings them alive. And yet he appears to have no ability to interpret his own behaviour. It has bee suggested that the author may be somewhere on the autism spectrum; he is highly intelligent, but seems unable to truly relate to others.
I can't say I enjoyed the book. I can't say I would recommend it to others to read. But I am glad I took the time to read it.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Masscharis Peter on 5 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I would rarely use the word "masterpiece" to descrive a contemporary novel, let alone an autobiography, but this book deserves this title.

You have to admit he has guts: writing a six - part autobiography and calling it "My struggle" (in German translated as "Mein Kampf") is a daring enterprise. But Knausgard succeeds with brio: he is a brilliant story teller and explores the human condition with such honesty and candour that it just leaves you gasping for breath (and wanting to read more and more).

The scenes at the end of the book (his father, his grandmother, the house, the bottles, ....) still haunt my mind.

Apparently Knausgard has achieved a kind of rock star status in Scandinavia: as far as I am concerned he deserves it.

The second book of the series "A man in love" has already appeared in the Dutch translation and is a little bit disappointing after the sheer brilliance of the first, but that is only to be expected. This book is to be released in April in English. By that time I will have read part three of "My Struggle" and it is already marked on my calendar that I have to get the moment it comes out.

Seriously, this is a reading experience not to be missed!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jo Anderson on 11 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This isn't the edition I received, and I would have much preferred this cover to the red and black shiny thing, but that's beside the point. Before I read it I thought I wouldn't be able to stomach a man's account of his adolescent life and his small world of beer-drinking, father-resentment, skulking, witnessing of his parents' break-up, accounts of school and so on. Surprisingly, I couldn't put the book down. Was this to do with the fact that there are virtually no chapters, and only very inconspicuous breaks in the text? It is a continuing narrative which only changes direction when we jump over the years to the father's death in the most sordid of circumstances - so sordid that your stomach will turn. The other main character is the author's grandmother, whose old age is equally dispiriting as her grandson slowly realises that she has dementia and is alcoholic. A continuing sick-making component of the memoir is the endless smoking, the piles of cigarette butts, stubbed-out everywhere and anywhere. If you hate the smell of cigarettes, this will be too much. Then some curious puritanical Norwegian attitudes to drink, seen as much more shocking than the putrid smoking. The death in the family, of the title, and probably the central image of the entire series, is horrible, the account of the funeral parlour and directors realistic and salutary, the relationship of the two brothers convincingly sharp in spite of it being undemonstrative... A true biography, a brilliant recall? I have heard that some critics regard this as the particular achievement of the book.Read more ›
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